Wafer up

March 19, 2015 § 29 Comments

You may think that the full-length Belgian Waffle Ride is the only game in town on April 26, 2015. That’s what I thought, even though I noticed at the bottom of the sign-up form that there was an option for something called the Belgian Wafer Ride.

“Wafer Ride? Really? What kind of namby-pamby bullshit is that? I’d be embarrassed to even admit I’d read about it.” So I went ahead and did what REAL HARDMEN and REAL HARDWOMEN do; I signed up for the full BWR, the breakfast equivalent of a Denny’s Grand Slam plus China King’s $5.00 all-you-can-eat buffet topped off with two entrees at the Heart Attack Grill.

And I felt like a real tough guy. Something about tapping those computer keys, clicking that mouse, running that credit card, and pushing back from the desk with a smug smile made me feel like Eddy+Roger+Tom+Fabian all rolled into one. Take that, wankers!

This, however, was back in February, and a few days ago the smugness wore off as I realized that all my mouse pointing and keyboard tapping had not been accompanied by training or long riding or even practicing on dirty roads. And I started thinking about what the last three years have irrefutably proven: I’m not tough enough for the BWR.

My three finishes were as follows:

2012: So devastated that I abandoned my three years of sobriety and plunged into the abyss of a 3-year drinking binge.

2013: So devastated that I missed the following week of work.

2014: So devastated that I sold my bike.

That’s when I started thinking a bit harder about the Wafer Ride. Sure, its name insinuates that you’re too weak, too lazy, too slow, too soft, and too un-Belgian to do the actual 140-mile BWR beatdown. But you know what? It’s true! And in addition to the truth setting you free, the Wafer Ride caters to all my physical and character failings, and is actually a much better fit for your training schedule if you’re a road racer who doesn’t normally target MSR, Ghent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix as the high points of your spring season.

If you happen to be an average masters schmo or schmo-ess, a 76-mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing, 20 miles of dirt roads, and the undulating terrain of North County San Diego is beatdown enough for a day, and you really don’t have to train extra to do it or even survive it. Adding to the beauty of the Wafer Ride, it doesn’t interfere with your racing program, you can keep taking the same doses of test and EPO, it won’t ruin you for the following month, and best of all you’ll be back at the bunkhouse slamming Lost Abbey beer and Sam Ames’s famous post-ride sausages long before the real hard people (i.e. the idiots) have even thought about dismounting for the day.

Oh–and you’ll start at a humane hour, you’ll finish before sundown, get home at a reasonable hour, be able to sit at your desk on Monday without drooling blood, and will still have logged your toughest, most grueling 76 miles of the year. The sharpening effect of the Wafer Ride will translate into race fitness rather than leaving you a mass of broken ego and ground up flesh.

Best of all? There are plenty of spots left. Register here. I know which version I’m doing in 2016.

END

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Fake crying

March 18, 2015 § 24 Comments

The decay and impending collapse of civilization can be verified at the local coffee shop after I finish my bike ride. Yesterday evening I was sitting there, minding everyone else’s business, when two guys sat down next to me and started talking about work.

But first, some background. You see, I stopped crying after Fourth Grade because in Texas there wasn’t any benefit to it. When someone hauled off and socked you in the face you could either sock them back, fall in a heap and wrap your arms around your head to protect your skull from the sharp-toed boot kicks, or run like hell. Whatever you did, you didn’t cry.

Even if they held you down and punched you and spit on you and rubbed dirt in your mouth, you didn’t cry. Not because you didn’t want to cry, but because the minute you started crying, the beating would only intensify and would be infinitely aggravated by being called a crybaby.

Your tormentors loved it when you cried because it reinvigorated their tired arms and got their spit flowing again. Conversely, your teachers hated it. Crying meant a) there was a problem and b) you weren’t taking care of it and c) they were going to have to interrupt whatever they were doing and take care of the crybaby. Plus, before they would do anything they’d say, “Stop crying, I can’t understand anything you’re saying.” So after going to all that trouble to cry and getting doubly abused for it, you had to quit crying anyway.

Parents hated it worst of all. “My kid got beat up and cried” was worse, infinitely worse, than “My kid has been sentenced to hang by the neck until dead.” So you just didn’t cry, and dog knows that there were entire school years when you wanted to do nothing but cry every single day.

Holding back the tears made you tough, until, by the time you were fourteen or fifteen the only people you ever saw crying were babies or girls or people at funerals. I know that from the day I started Jane Long Junior High in 1976 until the day I graduated from Bellaire High School in 1982 I never saw another boy cry.

So when the one guy asked the other guy at the coffee shop, “How’d your shift go?” The two were apparently tutors at one of the cram schools located in the mall. I was wholly unprepared for the answer.

“It was okay,” he said, “except for this one kid who I called out for his fake crying.”

“His what?” he said.

“His crying. His fake crying.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Remember that kid I was telling you about whose parents get mad at him for not doing his homework, then apologize for getting mad at him?”

There was so much much about this snippet that was wrong. “Yeah,” the other guy said.

“It’s him. He was complaining about how mean I was and so he started crying and stomped off to the water fountain.”

“How old is the little fucker?”

“He’s not so little. And he’s fourteen.”

“And he did what?” The guy was amazed, and my poor brain was spinning as I listened. A 14-year-old? Really?

“He said I was being mean so he stomped off to the water fountain, crying.”

I interpolated the horrific beating and lifelong ostracism that would have resulted from the public display of tears by a mostly grown teenager when I was growing up.

“Could the other kids see him?”

“Sure they could.”

“And he didn’t care?”

“Hell, no.”

“What were you doing that was so mean?”

“I was making him do the homework that I’d told him to do the day before and he hadn’t done it so he’d flunked the quiz and the teacher had assigned it to him again.”

“But why would he be angry about having to do his homework? I thought his parents were sending him there precisely so somebody would make him do his homework.”

“They are. But he claimed that technically it wasn’t homework, it was an old assignment that he’d not done and had been reassigned as punishment, so he claimed he didn’t really have to do it and I couldn’t make him, and since I told him to STFU and do the assignment he burst out into tears and ran off.”

“Then what?”

“He came back and asked if I was going to apologize for making him cry.”

“And he’s fourteen, right?”

“Right. And I told him hell no I wasn’t and he could cry all night long for all I cared as long as he did the stupid assignment. Then he said I was a real jerk for not caring that I’d made him cry.”

“He said all that?”

“No, I’m summarizing. He said a lot more.”

“Then what?”

“Then I told him I especially didn’t care because he wasn’t even crying. He was fake crying, and when I said that all the color ran out of his face and he said, ‘How did you know that?’ and I said, ‘Because I have a little brother and I used to beat the crap out of him and he fake cried all the time and what’s more he was a hell of a lot better fake crier than you.'”

“And?”

“And he said, ‘Really?’ and admitted that he fake cried all the time at home to make his parents feel bad and he was really surprised that it didn’t make me feel bad and that I’d figured out he was faking because his parents still hadn’t figured it out, so I told him they doubtless had figured it out and were probably in therapy trying to figure out how they’d raised such a whiny little wuss.”

“Did he start crying again?”

“Nope. He asked me what was so good about my brother’s fake crying, so I told him how my little brother was such a pro he could cry fake tears, and he didn’t believe me. ‘No way! No way you can fake cry so that you can actually make tears come out! No way!’ He was incredulous and envious.”

“I take it while all this was happening he wasn’t doing his assignment?”

“Wrong. I was riding herd on him so bad he wouldn’t have worked harder if I’d been holding a bullwhip.”

“Then what?”

“He didn’t fake cry again for the rest of the night. And he finished his assignment. What do you think about that?”

“I think that’s fucked up,” the other guy said.

I got up and looked at the two guys. “I think,” I said very slowly, “that the world is a very different place now.”

END

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Adam, meet Laura

March 17, 2015 § 45 Comments

On July 18, 2014, reserve police officer Laura Weintraub made a “funny” video in which she mocked cyclists and encouraged running them down.

Last week, Adam Parks of Victorian Farmstead, a luxury meat purveyor in Sonoma County, published a “funny” rant on his company’s web site that advocated running over cyclists. The blog post has been deleted, but I’ve reproduced it at the bottom of this post.

Adam and Laura, nascent humorists, got a “funny” lesson of their own: The Internet works.

As amazingly stupid as it was for a cop to advocate killing cyclists, it was almost as crazy for Meathead to attack the very people who buy his product. A wag out there in Internetville succinctly described Meathead’s self-made marketing headache thus:

meathead_graphic

The angry cyclist community responded by loading up Adam’s Facebag and Yelp pages with, shall we say, unflattering reviews. And Adam took Laura’s path of contrition, only quicker and more forcefully. He apologized, made the rounds of local bike shops with dick in hand, offered to talk over coffee with anyone, any time, and then rubbed his nose in his own poop and swatted his own ass in a newspaper interview with the Press-Democrat.

Naturally, this wasn’t enough for some people, nor will it ever be. If you have ever been hit by a car, threatened by a cager, or know someone killed by a driver, Meathead’s apology may ring hollow. But there’s a deeper problem than his rant or the fateful lighting that has been loosed from the Internet’s swift sword, and it lies in what seems to be Parks’s real objection to cyclists.

We are in the way.

It’s hard to believe that Meathead or Laura really intended to kill cyclists, and their contrition indicates that even if they did, they certainly don’t want to now. What is even harder to believe is that the roads are filled with motorists actively looking for opportunities to maim and kill. After all, when you kill someone and scratch your car, your insurance rates go up.

Nope, the problem is rooted in the deep human psyche of hating that which is “in the way.” Cyclists on the bike path can be just as bad as cagers. I’ve ridden numerous times with groups, and have seen countless individuals, who would rather swerve, shriek “On your left!” and miss the lady and her baby stroller by inches than grab the brake and pass slowly.

This is the key problem with advocating bike lanes and additional “infrastructure” as a solution to the inherent conflict between cars and bikes. As long as bikes are “supposed” to be in the bike lane, and as long as cagers see a perfectly good path running next to the road, they will be outraged when slower and smaller vehicles are “in their way.”

That wouldn’t be a problem, perhaps, if we could create a completely parallel bicycle roadway system, where every single car travel path had a parallel protected bicycle path. But even the craziest bike infrastructure advocates don’t suggest that such a system is possible. So what we’re left with is a patchwork — bike lanes in congested cities, nothing outside of town or off the major thoroughfares or in the neighborhoods — that reinforces the cagers’ mistaken belief that when we’re in the road we’re in the way, and that the best way to deal with an obstacle is to smash it or run it off the road.

Cager rage is often so intense that it even takes me by surprise. A couple of days ago I had a guy lean out the window and curse me, and he was headed in the opposite direction. I clearly wasn’t holding him up, he was just venting his rage at my audacity, and perhaps vocalizing what those going my direction felt but were too afraid to say.

Satisfying as it is when Meathead’s Yelp review page overfloweth with outrage, it’s much less satisfying when you know that the vast majority of the posters will never lift a finger to actually change motorists’ approach by riding in the lane. We’ve seen over our one-year-plus experiment on PCH here in Los Angeles that repeated, continual use of the travel lane reduces motorist hostility to bikes because they have begun to see us as rightful users of the roadway to be steered around, not as obstacles that don’t belong.

And no matter how many cups of coffee Meathead buys, and no matter how sincerely he regrets shooting his business in the foot, as long as bikes stay huddled on the fog line, timorously trying to stay “out of the way,” the Lauras and the Adams will continue to see us as obstacles that, unfortunately for us, need to be cleared — preferably with the bumper of a 2,000-lb. hurtling chunk of steel.

The best revenge you can get isn’t by tapping on your keyboard. It’s by taking your place in the lane, where you belong.

Here’s Meathead’s piece in all its unvarnished glory. Read it and groan.

As a rule, I don’t like cyclists. There… I said it. Big, sweeping generalization that probably throws some good, law-abiding people under the proverbial bus. Nonetheless, I really hate cyclists. Now, if a bike is your preferred or only method of transportation and you follow some basic rules, I’m not talking about you. If you like to cruise your Beach Cruiser on the bike path or pedal your Schwinn to work using the proper lane and hand signals, more power to you. You ride a bike. I’m talking about a completely different animal.

I’m talking about cyclists. You know the ones I mean. They are usually astride a $10,000 graphite-framed bike that is lighter than a can of beer. Their $500 spandex onesie has more advertisements than a NASCAR driver. How do you know if someone is a cyclist??? Don’t worry… they’ll tell you.

It’s probably more noticeable out here in Small Town USA. In the big city, transportation moves so slow that bicycles make sense. What doesn’t make sense is these entitled fools mucking up a perfectly fine drive on a narrow, two lane back road in the country. While it is a beautiful place to drive, and we are blessed to have our “office” out in the fresh air and sunshine, when we country folk are driving these roads it is generally for work-related purposes. We are trying to get someone or something from point A to point B. Get out of the way!

The rare single cyclist is bad enough. This is usually the newbie that decides he’s going to try out his new steed in “the middle of nowhere so I won’t bother my fellow cyclists”. Usually stopped (as there is nowhere to pull over) going uphill on a blind curve, you can actually feel this one questioning his life’s choices as you lay on the horn to move him into to the ditch and out of the way.

The real menace is the Peloton (hey, you thought I don’t do research???). These are the groups of cyclists that seem to be a combination of a mosh pit and a book club on wheels. Often in matching onesies, they are the most obnoxious and entitled group short of the Kardashians. They feel free to take up the whole lane and have no regard for anything or anyone around them. They take it as a personal affront to their space if they have to move over as they are pedaling fast enough to go 30 MPH on flat ground but are actually losing ground to the hill. And chit chatting like the cast of The View to boot!

So, as usual, I have some suggestions for these Tour de Speedbump contestants. First, anyone not in single file and/or on the right side of the solid white line is fair game. And, on that note, all of them should be required to have license plates and carry insurance (that’s Laura’s demand). That way I would be more apt to call Jonny Law and report them rather than resorting my only other option- running them off the road.

Also, let’s get some kickstands on these expensive scooters. Sure, it will double the weight and cost them precious seconds on their time trial runs. But, at least the rest of us won’t have to trip over them as we walk past the local, hipster juice bar where they are usually splayed like corpses on the sidewalk. I asked a cyclist once why they laid the bike on the ground instead of propped against the wall. The answer was simple… she knew it was going to fall so it was better to lay it on the ground gently so the paint wouldn’t get scratched. I really couldn’t make that up.

There was actually one time when I was driving a truck and 5th-wheel RV, got myself into a spot where I should not have been, and was surrounded by cyclists. I was taking the family to Santa Cruz for a little vacation. I had borrowed the RV, so I was a little nervous as it had been a while since I had towed anything that heavy. Anywhooo, I packed everyone up, punched the address for the KOA we were setting up at in the GPS and headed south on 101.

As we got into San Rafael, the GPS Lady suggested I take the Richmond Bridge. Now, I may not know exactly where to go once I got into Santa Cruz, but I know I’m going through San Francisco and south on 280. Everyone knows that. Here is where I made my first mistake. Rather than just let GPS Lady re-route me, I switched from fastest route to most direct. And across the Golden Gate we went.

As we cruised down 280, GPS Lady woke up and told me to take Sand Hill Rd. Now, here is how technology makes us really stupid sometimes. Like anyone who has been around NorCal for a while (in my case 40+ years) I know that to get to Santa Cruz you take 280 to 17 and go over the hill. Pretty hard to screw that up, right? However, GPS Lady said to take Sand Hill Road. Hey, maybe she knows a short cut! Right turn, Clyde…

It wasn’t until we were firmly on our way up a ONE lane road (path???) that I knew I was really and truly screwed. There was no backing up, as the “road” had tighter turns than a prima ballerina. Going forward was the only option, and it was clearly fraught with peril. Never mind having to stop on the blind corner of a 40% grade to check and see if the truck AND borrowed RV were going to make it between the sheer up cliff on the right and the tree that somehow was growing out of the sheer down cliff on the left. What really told me I was in trouble was the cyclists.

Whether it was the highly tuned athletes flying downhill at us like the last few lines of Space Invaders, or the ones who were passing us going UPHILL, I knew that- in this case- I was the one out of place. You know, as a dad, it’s usually when you are at your most frustrated that your kids won’t stop bickering or your wife wants to discuss feelings. This situation was so tense that the cab of the truck was silent. I’m talking about you coulda heard a mouse peeing on a cotton ball quiet. Everyone was pretty clear that this was not your run of the mill pickle dad had gotten us into.

It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to go about 3 miles. The same guy passed us, and was passed by us, four different times. His language and gestures got more colorful with each passing. Normally, I would have returned fire, but in this case it seemed wiser to just offer an apologetic nod and wave. When we finally reached the summit, and yes summit is the correct word, we made a left on the aptly named “Skyline Boulevard” and got into the left lane of a beautiful, four lane highway. At 35 miles an hour it felt like the Autobahn.

A few lessons can be taken from all of this. Know where you are. I was where I wasn’t supposed to be on that bike path. If you are a cyclist out for a tour of the country, be respectful of those who are trying to get from point A to point B. And technology is only as smart as the guy pushing the buttons. Common sense, or the lack of it, will still generally determine how your day turns out. Women have been after men to ask for directions since the invention of the wheel. Now, thanks to GPS, we don’t have to ask. GPS Lady tells where to go. And just like everything else in life, the women are usually right…

END

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Money in the bank

March 16, 2015 § 35 Comments

The guys were standing in line to order the food and Sherri had sat down at the table on the terrace to make sure no one else snagged it or stole the bikes while we were inside. It was a perfect Santa Monica Saturday in March, sunny and warm, and the terrace was bustling. Sherri noticed the light on the rear of my bike was still blinking, so she went over to switch it off.

When she came back to the table, a tattooed and ill-tempered young fellow and his friend were about to sit down at the table, which had our helmets and gloves on it.

“That’s my table, sonny,” Sherri said politely.

“Not any more,” he answered.

“Yes, in fact, it is,” she countered. Everyone at the surrounding tables was now watching, and we had just walked out from indoors with our hands full of tacos.

“I don’t see your name on it,” the guy said.

“Honey,” Sherri said in her sweetest but firmest and oh-so-unwavering Southern accent. “If you want to get into a dick swinging contest with me, you need to know I got a drawer full of ‘em at home and they’re all bigger than yours.”

The tough guy blushed to his hair roots and his friend began laughing at him as the onlookers snorted and spit pieces of taco out their noses. It was turning into an epic day.

Early last week I had made plans for my Saturday ride. I was going to crash the 6:00 AM Top Secret Invitation Only South Bay Royalty Ride and tag along for the 120 miles or so of wandering through the Santa Monica Mountains. It would fit perfectly with my plans to do the Belgian Waffle Ride (43 days away but who’s counting?) and would be a nice follow-up to the rather longish ride I’d done the previous Saturday.

Plus, I’d get to ride with a group that I normally don’t hang out with because of their very early riding schedule.

On Friday evening I was airing up my tires when it occurred to me that my eldest son had suggested we go for a bike ride on Saturday. We’d talked about it the previous weekend and it had completely slipped my mind. “Hey,” I looked over at him, “do you want to ride on Sunday instead of Saturday?”

“Yeah, but I can’t. I work Sundays from ten to four, remember?”

“Oh, right,” I said. “What time do you want to ride tomorow?”

“Let’s go around ten or eleven,” he said.

“Great,” I answered, with that feeling-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach that every cyclist gets when his weekend riding plans and oh-so-important training schedule get upended. But I didn’t let on. My son and I don’t spend a lot of time together; he’s 22 and works full time, and although he commutes by bicycle he certainly doesn’t view a bike as a form of recreation. When I think about all my friends who have spent so much time doing things with their kids I’m acutely aware of my deficit in that particular bank.

Since he’s the one who had suggested it, I knew I’d be crazy not to follow through. We left at 10:30, and before we rolled out he handed me his t-shirt. “Would you stick this in your jersey pocket so I’ll have something to wear if we go into a restaurant?”

“Sure,” I said.

The bike path was already packed as people flocked to the beach after having endured that one brutal day of winter when it rained for thirty minutes and got down into the mid-50’s. Hardship really makes you appreciate the good days.

It took us a long time to get to Manhattan Beach, where Surfer Dan was late, as usual. We waited for him, but not really, and continued on, chatting as we rode. We stopped at the Marina bridge a while later and met up with Dan. He and my son talked all the way to Helen’s Cycles, where we picked up Sherri for lunch.

After the dick-swinging incident we rode back to Manhattan Beach and drank iced coffee as the swirl of scantily-clad girls flowed by. We pretended not to be looking, and we continued to not-look for a solid hour. Then we got on our bikes and pedaled home, knocking out fifty miles in about 5.5 hours.

There had been no hammering or intervaling or pacelining or dickmeasuring, with the exception of the exchange at the taco shop that Sherri had won by several inches. “That was fun,” he said when we got home.

Dinner tasted especially good that night. Mrs. WM had made a giant pot of meat sauce for the spaghetti and she had baked a fresh loaf of bread whose smell wafted down the hallway of our apartment complex. My son and I didn’t say much over dinner; we’d said what needed to be said already, as well as what didn’t. It was, as bike racers like to say about a particularly hard training day that will pay off come race day, “Money in the bank.”

END

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Let’s try a new position, honey

March 14, 2015 § 12 Comments

The riders dribbled up to the Manhattan Beach Pier for the start of the Chief’s sixtieth birthday ride. “Hey, how’s your knee?” asked T-Dub.

“Oh, I’m getting it operated on next Thursday. Yours?” Iron Mike’s joints weren’t quite so ferrous anymore.

“Got a tear in my meniscus. Doc says it’s too small to operate on but big enough to give me trouble. Like having a hole in the carpet.”

A couple of other riders horned in on the conversation. “Yep, I threw out my prostate carrying a load of firewood,” one offered.

“And my neck … ” said another rider.

As soon as he said the word “neck” everyone began comparing their neck problems, the neck problems of people who weren’t there, and the names of the best neck surgeons in West L.A. I’d never seen a group of people more animated, and SB Baby Seal, the only guy there who was in his 20’s, listened in on the organ recital with a raised eyebrow.

It reminded me of how rides used to start, back in that mythical day. We’d talk about who had gotten laid the night before, who was on track to get laid tonight, and would compare the various sex acts, their number and quantity, the skills of the partners, and whether or not the associated quantity and type of drugs and alcohol had rendered the whole thing a fuzzy memory or not.

And the few times that we weren’t talking about sex, we were talking about bike racing, which in many respects was very similar.

I certainly don’t remember ever sitting around talking about neck specialists, but then again, this was my first ever #60 birthday celebration ride. When I started riding, I didn’t even know anyone who was sixty except for my granddad, and he didn’t ride a bike, he drove a Buick.

Still, after listening to the litany of neck problems, I realized that lots of people do have a ton of pain and discomfort when they cycle. Part of it is probably because they are old, and part of it is probably because they are fat, but another big part of bike pain is also related to position. Let’s face it, it’s pretty unnatural to sit hunched over with your neck jutting out for hours at a time.

The first step to getting a handle on your achy proscenium is of course getting a pro fit. I got a super fit from Dialed In Bike Fitting three years ago, and although the fit took me out of my 1980’s super-stretch duck paddle position, it didn’t take care of my aches and pains because I’ve never had any. I think one of the reasons I don’t have aches when I ride is because I don’t really have one position. I’m always shifting around, and instead of looking for a “perfect position,” during the ride I’m always fiddling with where I put my hands and my ass.

From an aesthetic standpoint this means that I look spastic when I pedal. But from a pain perspective it means I have none. Zero. Zip. And that’s after 33 years of riding 10,000 miles a year, sometimes a lot more.

So here are the position changes that I really think help make a difference if you’re doing them constantly.

  1. Tops to drops: Regularly move your hands from the tops to the drops. This bends your back and shifts everything at once.
  2. Hood dance: Regularly get off your saddle and climb with your hands on the hoods.
  3. Drop dance: Climb with your hands on the drops.
  4. Extended dance: Climb out of the saddle, shifting hand positions, for 10-20 minutes at a time.
  5. Look Ma, no hands: Sit up occasionally and ride with your hands off the bars.
  6. Shake your booty: Slide your ass forward and backwards on the saddle.
  7. Body stiff: When you’re climbing out of the saddle, try to keep your body as motionless as possible.
  8. Body swing: When you’re climbing out of the saddle, try to swing your body from side to side.
  9. Supergrip: Grip your bars as tightly as you can, then relax. Especially do this when climbing, and vary it from the tops to the hoods to the drops.

Will any of this help? I don’t know; it seems to help me. And at the very least, you’ll look like you’re having a seizure when you ride. So, as Knoll would say, “There’s that.”

END

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It’s never a good time to stand up for your rights

March 13, 2015 § 49 Comments

Rights are extremely inconvenient things. If you keep them in a drawer without food, exercise, and nourishment, one day when you take them out for a fine stroll on the town you will find that instead of being robust with a thick coat of fur, happy and healthy companions that you can turn on enemies in a pinch or use to get you through the day, you find instead that they are emaciated, tired, twig-legged, and all their teeth have fallen out.

What’s worse, when you snap them off the leash and say, “Run, rights, run!” they stagger and stumble and you end up having to carry them to the vet, a sad looking guy in black robe who often pronounces them either dead or seriously impaired. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re the proud owner of a right that dates back to 1789, an heirloom enshrined in centuries of jurisprudence and vigorous exercise, only to learn that you’re the keeper of an empty, toothless, saggy-dicked principle that has one foot in the grave and the other in a nasty opinion written by Justice Scalia.

Yes, it’s a shock to have some ignorant, mean, ‘roided out lardass who rode the bench on the JV football squad, a peabrain who’s now packing a gun, cuffs, tazer, radio, and mace, a barely literate boob who drives a patrol car loaded with a riot shotgun and is backed up by helicopters, a SWAT team and dozens of similarly armed brethren, and to have that guy pull you over while you’re riding your bike and write you a ticket for doing something that’s perfectly legal.

Pretty galling, because there you are in your underwear flexing your pot belly as you’re reaching into your back jersey pocket to whip out your rights and have them eat this asshole’s lunch and he takes one look at your puny, underfed, under-exercised, long-ignored rights and flicks them off into the ditch.

Then he writes you the ticket and goes on his way. “Tell it to the judge,” he sneers as you desperately try to pick up your sick and feeble rights and sic ‘em on this lawbreaker.

And the question is, what are you going to do about it?

Some people will pay the ticket. Some people will complain on Facegag. Some people will get up at 4:30 AM and write what they hope is a clever blog. Some will hold a small ceremony for the dead rights, take up golf, or excoriate college students who dare to insult the flag.

Me?

I’m going to take out my puny, shaky-legged, underfed rights and give them some exercise. They may be sick, but they aren’t dead. And I think that given their genetic makeup and their Constitution, with some vigorous exercise and some healthy time out on the town, they’re going to come roaring back.

The tentative dates for this rolling rights protest, which will take place at the city office in Malibu and then proceed down PCH all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, are April 5, April 25, or May 9. I’m in the process of obtaining permit information from the city and will provide updates once a firm date is confirmed.

The protest will demand that the city instruct its minions at LASD to stop harassing cyclists, it will demand that the LA Sheriff’s Department stop its policy of writing bogus tickets to cyclists, and it will also call for the implementation of political change: Instead of having to fight every harassing ticket, we will start the process of finding a new candidate for sheriff who will take action against these lawless deputies.

My rights may die anyway. But they won’t die without getting a bit of vigorous exercise first.

END

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You can’t fix stupid

March 11, 2015 § 68 Comments

After a battle with the L.A. Sheriff’s Department that lasted well over a year, I thought that we had finally put to rest the harassment of cyclists on PCH north of Temescal Canyon. Our loose coalition of idealists had a three-pronged attack on the harassing citations that the Deppity Doofuses were writing:

  1. Outreach and education for the LASD.
  2. Fight each and every ticket.
  3. Continue riding in the lane where it’s legal to do so.

Of course we had a few secret weapons up our sleeve. We had Dr. Tomato Stain, our sly expert witness who made himself available for detailed measurements and expert testimony at each of the three trials that we won when the harassing deputies didn’t appear. We had the heft of Eric Bruins and the LA County Bicycle Coalition providing expertise and expert testimony. And most importantly, we had the full support of Greg Seyranian and Big Orange. These riders are the ones who refused to be pushed back into the gutter, and who weekly rode their bikes legally in the lane.

They backed up their willingness to ride in the lane by an equal willingness to take time off of work to fight the bogus citations. The tickets stopped, and I went on to other less pressing concerns, such as work and family and cat videos. Until Monday.

That’s when I learned that we do indeed have another Deppity Doofus with a severe case of citation writus reflexia.

A group of Big Orange riders were cruising north bound on PCH, legally riding 2×2 in the right lane. When they got within about half a mile of Cross Creek, they heard the dreaded beep of a short warning siren. It wasn’t clear that it was for them so they kept moving. Then the angry voice of Deppity Doofus told them to get out of the lane. Confused and frustrated, they began to move to what little shoulder there was. As everyone who’s ever ridden this stretch of road knows, there’s no bike lane and nowhere to put your bike except the lane itself unless you want to charge through the glass, rocks, gravel, used condoms, bongs, used dildos, meth paraphernalia, and other necessities for surfing Malibu that are strewn in the gutter.

Deppity Doofus then called out to to one of the riders, “You in the red jersey, pull over!” Red Jersey Rider had been singled out for two obvious reasons, neither of which was justified. First, he was at the back of the group, and like the wounded gazelle at the rear of the herd he was the first one to be dragged down by the throat by the marauding lion. Second, he was wearing a white jersey with cats wearing red Santa hats, a fashion misstep that some would say justifies every persecution. I however, would not.

All of the riders pulled into the parking lot at Aviator Nation, a place that Harrison Ford frequents in between golf course crash landings. There were a few cyclists who passed by, also in the lane, and who continued up the coast. These scofflaws, who were obviously on the lowest step of the gradual cyclist ladder to violent crime that begins with riding in the lane, were ignored by Deppity Doofus and his assistant, Newbie Nukkelnoggin.

When Doofus and Nukkelnoggin got out of the car, the cyclists asked the officers to explain exactly what they had done wrong, aside from the cats in the Santa hats. Some of the riders videotaped the incident while others looked up the section of the California vehicle code that gives cyclists the right to ride in the traffic lane. They offered up facts and even asked about the “Share the Road” sign that was posted on PCH a few hundred yards south. Doofus, uninterested in law or fact and apparently unable to read, rolled up his window when one of the riders approached his vehicle to show him digital documentation of the CVC code section displayed on his phone.

Another rider pulled up additional information on his phone regarding the right to legally use the traffic lane and handed it to Nukkelnoggin, who, after excessive efforts that involved moving his lips while he read, digested the information. He showed it to Doofus but by now it had become a matter of phallus measuratus, and Doofus wasn’t about to back down even though he was wrong on the law, wrong on the facts, and wrong on just about everything. Nukkelnoggin then informed them that their supervisor was coming to the scene from Calabasas.

A fun day in the saddle was thus transformed into a miserable altercation with deputies so bad at their job that they required backup and supervisory reinforcement to evaluate a traffic citation.

When Deppity Doofus finished writing the citation, he approached Santa Cats and told him to sign it. At this point, things got a little hairy. One of the riders asked why Santa Hats had to sign the citation if he didn’t believe that he had done anything wrong. Doofus became irate and started calling the other cyclist a “jackass” and told one of the riders with a video to “Go ahead and film me, I’m not doing anything wrong.”

As they waited for the supervisor to arrive, reinforcements showed up in the form of another deputy who parked next to the other two. It was obviously either a slow day at Malibu or this dangerous gang of cats-in-Santa-hat-sporting-scofflaws was going to need some serious SWAT backup.

The  supervisor finally showed up and he approached the sheriffs first. It didn’t look like Deppity Doofus was pleased. He then began to point his finger at the cyclist who had asked why Santa Hats had to sign the citation. He was livid and the supervisor seemed irritated. When the riders spoke to the supervisor, he was friendly. He shook Santa Hat’s hand and patted him on the back while Doofus and Nukkelnoggin stood quietly and Deppity Reinforcement flanked the group as if he were ready for something to go down, like, you know, in case someone attacked the armed police battalion with a Bonk Breaker or a Gu gel packet.

The supervisor then expounded wrongly on the law, telling the riders that they have the right to take a lane when there’s an obstruction in the bike lane or shoulder, but that they would have to return to the shoulder when said obstruction was gone. Super defined “obstruction” as car doors and other objects. The riders tried to explain the law but he kept saying that there was nothing he could do about it. The ticket had already been written, and he he parted with the sage and helpful advice to “Tell it to the judge.”

On their time, of course.

After an hour and a half, everyone left the scene of this incredibly significant law enforcement incident. The cyclists rode cautiously to Cross Creek then turned around. On the way home, they took the lane because all agreed that their safety was worth more than the price of another citation. They passed the sheriffs on the way home, but Doofus and Nukkelnoggin did nothing, focusing all of their energies on a 12-pack of donuts.

In this instance, the citation was for violation CVC 21208(a), which requires a cyclist to ride in a bike lane when such a lane has been established pursuant to CVC 21207. A quick search of the local roads database shows that this section of road is designated as a Class III Bike Route, otherwise defined as an on-street travel lane shared by bicyclists and other vehicular traffic.

A Class III Bike Route is, of course, a completely different dog from a bike lane established pursuant to CVC 21207. In essence, a Class III Bike Route is a metal sign on the side of the road indicating that there is no bike lane or other separated facility. More importantly for Santa Hats, on its face the citation is void, as Deppity Doofus will be unable to show that there was a bike lane anywhere on PCH, much less at the point where he cited Santa Hats.

In addition to being a wonderful showcase for how ineffective we’ve been at educating the sheriff’s department regarding actual laws, it’s even more disheartening to realize that the ignorance festers at the supervisory level as well despite meetings, encouragement from the captain at the substation, and even ride-alongs with deputies and supervisors to educate them about cyclists’ rights. The behavior of the deputies showed that when push comes to shove, they will push and shove the cyclists rather than back down and admit they are wrong.

Sounds like another case for Dr. Tomato Stain and his crack legal team.

Sigh.

END

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